Review by “Troynos”
Brief recap of #1. Alabaster Graves is a driver for the dead. He drives a hearse for a funeral home. But this is in New Orleans, the home of Hoodoo, and so Graves doesn’t drive just any corpses. The story opens with Moses Freeman, a practitioner of Hoodoo (the good kind) trying to save a boy from a demon. He dies in the attempt and calls on Graves to deliver his body. We’re introduced to Graves as he is trying to get a body of a boy that will become a vampire to the cemetery and buried (in a specific way) so the boy won’t rise up again. Since Freeman was so strong, his body has a lot of power. And it’s that power that Uriah Fallow wants. Fallow is a necromancer that steals body parts to replace his own. He’s after people with powers to make his own. He wants Moses Freeman and it’s up to Graves to prevent it.
Graves is forced to have Freeman’s great-granddaughter along for the ride.
Issue #2 opens with Graves picking up the body in Shreveport Louisana. He needs to get the body back to New Orleans. Of course Fallow gets in the way.
This was an interesting story. It’s a hoodoo tale. It’s a New Orleans tale. Heffernan has done his research. His descriptions of what to do for the “spells”, how it’s all worded and the rituals performed, it’s all highly descriptive. It’s done in a way, where the practitioner is explaining to a client as well as us, so it’s not forced into the story, but comes naturally as the story progresses.
Graves has a lot of respect for what he does, and why he does it. The walking armory that he’s made his hearse, and it’s a souped-up hearse, is a tad much, but it makes sense in the context of his job and what he does and how he does it.
The story is fast paced, which is surprising because it’s a lot of ‘talking head’ moments between Graves and Marissa Freeman, as well as the Old Woman, who can best be described as a good witch. Heffernan’s script doesn’t get bogged down in the talking head moments. It’s natural conversation, easy to read, and has a nice flow, keeping the pace of the story moving. This issue is not high on action, but it’s not a dull read. Not at all.
The only issue, I guess you can say, is that for someone born and bred a Cajun, Graves doesn’t have an accent. I would have expected something along the lines of Gambit. But the lack of an expected accent doesn’t hurt the story at all. This is a pure New Orleans story.
The concept is great and I’m surprised it’s never been done before. This would make a great ongoing series, there is so much potential for stories, and would make an excellent television show.
I’ve never been a Leonardo Manco fan. His work has always been too chaotic, wild and ugly for me. His style is good for horror stories, and that’s in essence what this is.
Except this is not a Leonard Manco that I’m familiar with. His work here is crisp. It’s not ugly and it’s not chaotic. The figures are in proportion. It lacks a heavy ink line, having the look and feel of the pencils to color technique. The paints, which are fairly muted for a painted book, help give the book a great feel and tone that fits the story. It’s not dark, but it’s not light.
Manco has always been solid on the fundamentals of story and layout, but here he’s even better. He’s got a grasp of framing the page and arranging the layouts to make a great page. There are some panels where the flow is off, but not enough to really bring down the book, as the rest of the work is solid and better than I would have thought when saw his name attached.
Drive For The Dead #2 receives
4 out of 5
This is a really interesting premise and I hope we see more after this 3 issue series.
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